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TexasDude's avatar

What can you tell me about Barry Goldwater and his influence on Republican politics?

Asked by TexasDude (25244points) November 10th, 2010

So I’m writing an essay for my 20th century American history class where I have to choose two “movements” of the 60’s and compare them and pontificate on their greater historical contexts and implications, and all that jazz. I didn’t feel like writing about the typical movements from the 60’s that you usually hear about (hippies, Civil Rights activists, Black Panthers, etc.), so I decided to write about Barry Goldwater Republicans and the Weather Underground. I haven’t gotten to the Weathermen in my essay, yet, so we won’t worry about them for the time being. I am, however, looking for decent information about Barry Goldwater. Basically, I’m arguing that Goldwater’s popularity permanently influenced Republican, and more specifically, right-wing politics (well, at least the libertarian element) and that his campaign was more or less a backlash to 60’s big government liberalism.

The problem here, is that I am having a hard time quantifying the organizational structure, goals of, and obstacles the “Goldwater Movement” faced. I am also having a hell of a time finding sources. The wikipedia articles about Goldwater and the ‘64 Republican National Convention are not surprisingly almost devoid of useful citations or footnotes. My school library also conveniently lacks anything about Barry whatsoever.

So anyhoo, there are probably a lot of Flutherites who are older than I who lived through the ‘64 election and can tell me all about Goldwater or the left vs. right context of the era, or the breaking away of the small government libertarians from the fragmenting Republicans, and so on. Also, if you know of any decent sources or places to find them, I’d love to see them.

Caveat: I am not asking you to do my homework or research for me. I am asking for intelligent discussions about my topic to inspire me, as well assistance in answering my questions in bold and possibly finding research resources. oh yeah, and if you have anything useful to say about the Weathermen, that really wouldn’t hurt either.

Thanks in advance, my lovelies.

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8 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

I’m sorry, I can’t help you much here, @Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard, other than to say that he looked pretty damn scary to some of us then. Boy, in 1964 we really had no idea what scary was.

My attention was elsewhere at the time of those campaigns, as I was getting ready for my first semester of college.

I do remember bumper stickers that said “AuH2O” (subscript 2) and the slogan “In your heart you know he’s right,” met on the other side with ”—far right.”

It really surprises me that you are not finding good material. I would have thought that every election of the twentieth century would have plentiful coverage, and especially those in which TV played a part. Or is it just the opposite?—once TV began to supplant newspapers, less was written? It simply can’t be the case that there are few or no historical and analytical sources for this material.

jlelandg's avatar

I don’t see what’s so scary about less government and fewer powerful labor unions while abstaining politically from comment on things like abortion and gay rights.

I’m probably around OP’s age, and only know what I’ve read and heard (which include from parents as well as a few articles and wikipedia) as well as a distinct dislike for Johnson.

flutherother's avatar

I remember him as being an eccentric scary political figure, or at least that is how he was seen in the UK. He said ’ extremism in defence of liberty is no vice’ I remember and I think he was in favour of dropping atomic bombs on Vietnam.

You will find stuff on him if you search Google books such as this text His papers are held by the Arizona Historical Foundation

PS here is a very interesting documentary on the Weather Underground

rawpixels's avatar

The Republican Party could use a great man like Goldwater now, instead of the know-nothings who have been running the party over the past 10 years or so.

tedd's avatar

@rawpixels You’ve gotta be kidding me. Granted the man would do whatever to follow what he believed, but he was borderline nuts. In fact throw out borderline, the man was nuts. And you need look no further than the far right people we have today. Bachman, Beck, some of the REALLY crazy religious right people and tea partiers.

Its like history repeating.

TexasDude's avatar

@tedd, Barry happened to be vehemently opposed to the existence of the so-called religious right. Aside from his hawkish stances on war and his opposition to the Civil Rights Act, I like him a lot more than most Republicans and Democrats… but that’s beside the point.

@Jeruba, the fact that you are sharing your personal experiences is good enough for me. Thank you very much!

@flutherother, that documentary is perfect. Thank you!

@Cruiser, I’ve used one or two of those already, but I haven’t seen a few of them. The footnotes are great. Much appreciated!

rawpixels's avatar

You can’t just say the man was nuts and provide no evidence to support your claim. The right wingers and tea-partiers you mentioned, really don’t have anything to do with Barry Goldwater.

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